Cupboard check – what’s in your drawers?

herbs-spices-

Cupboard check:

  • Baking powder, expiration date March 2013
  • Baking soda, expiration date July 2014
  • Flour, best used by (oops! it’s smudged)
  • Espresso powder, use by 2009

It’s time to start thinking about the holidays. (Egad! I am so not ready!) 

Entertain in? Invited out? How many people for Thanksgiving? Drop in visitors?

How much food to have on hand? What kind of food? How can we make it healthy? Does it need to be healthy?

My days of baking lots of cookies and pastries are long gone. We don’t eat many sweets but you need to have some around or it’s not the holidays. (That’s written in some book somewhere probably by my Mom!)

For the past several years I make two kinds of pastries. Both are good and fairly easy. They also freeze well. They make good gifts and great desserts.

My brother (a really great baker) also makes some cookies and we swap. Makes life easier.

So what’s the big deal?

Two things. With an infrequent baking schedule, the supplies get old and out of date. I also forget how to make them so I need to pull out my stained recipes and I don’t remember where I put them.

I take an inventory of everything — the salt supply, extra flour, all kinds of sugar, absolutely everything I need including pans. (Did you know that baking pans can rust from not being used? It’s their version of wrinkles.)

I hate running to the store with white stuff in my hair and sticky spots on my clothes. I do it at least once during every baking session despite my fabulous inventory skills.

A look in my drawers (kitchen drawers that is) is always a trip down memory lane. That old instant espresso was used in a mocha icing for a fabulous chocolate cake that I don’t make anymore. (Should I make that this year? If so put new espresso powder on the list)

Many of the recipes are from my mother and her mother or Ina Garten or Good Housekeeping.

Remember when you cut out recipes from food boxes and flour bags and magazines? I never tried them but I filled up a box with cut-out recipes. (I should have sold them on eBay.)

I started using Saigon cinnamon many years ago when I noticed that it had more kick. Same is true of real nutmeg seed. You have to update your spices because they don’t age any better than people do. (Only cheese and wine age well.)

There are a few spices that I use regularly but most I replace when the jar says so.

It’s that time of the year. Out with the old, in with the new – at least in the kitchen cupboards!

Maybe it’s time for a practice session just to taste but first I have to finish my inventory.

Courtesy of dreamstime

Courtesy of dreamstime

 

 

 

44 thoughts on “Cupboard check – what’s in your drawers?

  1. Kate … The ‘expiry date’ check is a must. As I don’t wish to give anyone ptomaine poisoning or a bland spice, I toss them out as soon as I spot them. I write the date in permanent marker on the containers – in larger print – so that I won’t hold on to it by mistake.

    Just this morning, I realized that we better get a turkey soon. Yes, the holidays do roll around much faster each year it seems. 😉

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    • I started writing the expire date on everything in permanent magic market. It’s too hard to read the fine print. In fact, I’m starting to write a lot of stuff in magic marker so I can easily read it. OTC drugs are the worst. I can’t read those labels for anything without my nifty lighted magnifying glass. Is there such a thing as 2 point print? I swear that’s what they use.

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  2. This post really won the Derby…nice when that happens…love the line about wrinkles…even pots aren’t safe from age.
    Picture of all the spices is great. Xmas…not ready either…it’s when Carmela is leaving

    And you?

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      • I think it is a marketing ploy — dried spices are, ummmm, dry!

        That said, when I found ants in my pantry, I purged everything — including some stuff that were more than a few years past their expiration! And including a lot of things that the ants actually had no interest in at all.

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  3. Good luck with your inventory. I make peanut brittle every year and the first batch is always a flop because the ingredients are a bit “past prime.” So your inventory is a good idea. I am past the first batch though so everything that goes into the brittle is now fresh and waiting.

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  4. I went through our spice cupboard a few years ago and found items that were 10 yrs old, so really from my point of view you have years left on some of those spices! Of course if you intend on having flavor when you bake, that’s a whole different thing. 😉

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  5. I had to laugh at that title … no one has seen what’s in my drawers in a very long time, and I’m surely not about to change that now, holidays or no holidays! Seriously, if the baking police ever visited my house, they would likely find all sorts of infractions. Heck, I’m pretty sure I still have a package of yeast from about two years ago stuffed in a drawer in the fridge (or maybe in the freezer?) … you know, from that homemade bread or pizza dough that never saw the light of day.

    I was never a big baker, holidays or not, but these past few years I’ve had a little more time on my hands, and a little less cash in my pockets, so I’ve embraced the idea of gifting homemade treats as opposed to some bauble or trinket that is ridiculously expensive. Generally speaking, I try for about four or five variations, and have even saved up some reusable plastic containers throughout the year so that I don’t have to buy those snowman and reindeer versions. I’m actually looking forward to the baking part of the equation, assuming our weather finally shifts, and I’m not trying to bake while it’s still eighty degrees outside. *fingers crossed*

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  6. I’m laughing ’cause my sister and I went through our mom’s fridge and pantry to ‘clear out’ and we found things so out of date we shuddered. Vowed never to let ours fall into such a state…guess what? Mine is much like that…yikes! Now that it’s cooler weather and raining I must get into ditching/replacing. I don’t want to be charged with food poisoning.
    For Thanksgiving we’re all going to be at our youngest sons new home…M and I are taking the ham…at everyone’s request.
    The family does all the baking, etc. which relieves me of making choices! Happy me!
    Love the post and you make my day…always! Hugs to you and the cats!

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  7. Thanksgiving dinner in our house is supplied in a box provided by Events Etc. Looks and tastes like Thanksgiving with no work on my part, which is really good since I am lucky to get 3-4 hours free on Thanksgiving day! Busy, busy day for pet sitters.

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    • That is wonderful! I have always invited friends and people who have no where to go. It makes it more interesting. We are a small group this year and I no longer make a large turkey. It’s just a breast. This works better and is a lot less work. I expect that will be a very busy day for you. Critters like their dinner on Thanksgiving too.

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    • One is for a quasi-cookie (remembering that I am of Austrian-German heritage and we did complicated pastries rather than cookies) my Mom called Wednesday cookies. The Italians make them with ricotta or you can make with sour cream. They are a very soft cake-like cookie that my Mom iced (some vanilla, some chocolate) then dunked in nuts or toasted coconut or left plain. The other is a mix of a recipe from Ina Garten for rugelach but I do it with some of my Mom’s techniques. Both freeze well without drying out. The rugelach takes a little longer to make but the other is quick. I find that for standard cookies, Archway does work.

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  8. I’ve been transferring all my old cut out recipes to the cloud–Evernote–with the simple use of a camera app. It’s been helpful in at least making me feel less guilty. Somehow throwing out an entire drawer of decades-old recipes made me feel so silly for having held onto them this long. Now, I can go to my grave with them in the cloud…and no one else will know! Oops. Did I just admit this publicly? If my motor doesn’t run any slower this year I won’t be baking much…and truthfully, I enjoy baking and just don’t prioritize it. After reading your last post I’m thinking of baking for all my friends!

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  9. With grandchildren around, there will be some baking done. It is one of my fondest memories from when my girls were at home. We all (5 of us) baked at the same time and each daughter had her own specialty. So much fun! And they all carry on the tradition!

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    • I remember baking with my Mom. Good times especially the glass of wine afterwards. My granddaughters are across the country so there is no one to bake with and no one to eat the stuff. I do enjoy eating some of the old favorites.

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  10. Glad to learn that your drawers are in order. Or soon to be.

    I needed to buy baking powder yesterday. Was shopping with my scientist hubby. Of course I picked the no-name brand because it’s cheaper. “Not so fast, says he,” and he begins reading labels. [insert theme music from Jeopardy here]. Wouldn’t you know it, the smaller and pricier brand product has more of the active ingredient than the no name. And less salt, which is important to our aging and high blood pressure prone arteries. His, not mine. Just watch, next cake or muffin I bake will be twice as fluffy.

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  11. Loved the line about the pans wrinkling. Reminds me – there are lots of old spices in those kitchen drawers. One more job on my to-do list.

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  12. It’s hard to believe the holidays are just around the corner. I used to do a ton of baking around the holidays…but that was before writing started to consume my free time. 🙂 My mother still has her little recipe box with all of the cut outs from magazines, boxes and the recipe index cards that say “From the Kitchen Of.”

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    • Yes, I have some recipes that I begged off of friends too. Mostly I didn’t make them. How many desserts can you really make? I used to take leftovers into work but now that I’m retired, they just sit here. However, if I need something quick or easy or good, I have it.

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